Six Albemarle County Public Schools will now receive some of their energy from solar energy systems recently installed on their rooftops, thanks in part to a $500,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant.
The systems will generate 1,354,704 total kilowatts per year, which is enough electricity to power 125 homes. The schools are Albemarle High, Greer Elementary, Brownsville Elementary, Baker-Butler Elementary, Mortimer-Sutherland Middle, and Monticello High.
“REAP rewards innovation and foresight among local businesses and rural communities that want to move closer to energy independence,” said Janice Stroud-Bickes, acting state director for USDA Rural Development in Virginia. “This project with Albemarle County Public Schools is particularly encouraging for us because it will introduce a generation of young people in Albemarle to the advantages of and science involved in renewable energy. We hope students will be inquisitive about the new energy source and that teachers use the technology as an opportunity to educate.”
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the solar project’s completion today at Monticello High School. Officials from Albemarle County Public Schools and the solar development company that received the grant, Albemarle Solar, LLC, attended the announcement.
USDA Rural Development’s REAP grants provide funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or for energy efficiency improvements. They help increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.
Since 2010, six USDA Rural Development REAP grants have been awarded in Albemarle County, totaling $613,414. The REAP program is now taking applications for the next round of awards.
USDA Rural Development in 2015 invested more than $1 billion in rural Virginia through 40 loan, grant and loan guarantee programs in housing, business, agriculture, energy, health care and community facilities. It has employees stationed in 14 offices across the commonwealth to better serve residents where they live and to improve the economy and quality of life in rural Virginia.